Music News

Denver's best music releases of 2011

Page 6 of 6

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Sineater (Greater Than). Of all the local albums released this year, Sineater was perhaps the most feverishly anticipated — and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake delivered. From Ravi Zupa's stellar cover art to the thick, pall-like clouds these ten songs conjure with their angular guitar lines over pulsing bass and powerful percussion and Hayley Helmericks' enthralling vocals, Sineater is absolutely riveting. — Herrera

Spires, EP (Patient Sounds). On EP, its auspicious four-song debut, Spires plays as though the past two decades and some change had never happened. With breathy vocals and deliberate arrangements, Spires inhabits the textured guitar-driven landscape once occupied by bands like the 77's. Of all this year's freshly minted acts, Spires proved to be one of the most promising, and this first release instantly earned repeated listens. — Herrera

Spoke In Wordz, Beautiful Dead (Self-released). Spoke's Beautiful Dead mixtape, released to coincide with Día de Los Muertos, sounds like a hip-hop prayer of resurrection. The opening poem, performed by Casey Whirl, is a timeline of hip-hop history, while the title track, produced by Es-Nine of Prime Element, showcases Spoke's tenacious rhymes. A fine piece of work, indeed. — Johnson

Sole & the Skyrider Band, Hello Cruel World (Fake Four). Not mere spleen-venting, these thirteen tracks are succinct and poignant commentaries on the diminished conditions and expectations of America below the top socioeconomic rung. They have a surprisingly commercial sound, but that's probably the only way the good medicine of their message can be palatable to the unconverted. — Murphy

Tennis, Cape Dory (Fat Possum). Led by the reverb-drenched guitar work of Patrick Riley and the sturdy vocals and organ playing of Alaina Moore, Tennis produced a pleasing, no-frills blend of retro pop that inspired a tidal wave of attention that crested with the release of Cape Dory, which, hyperbole aside, proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable record. — Herrera

Tollund Men, Demo 1 (Self-released). Like a post-apocalyptic version of Cabaret Voltaire, the music of Tollund Men is akin to grainy, forbidden transmissions from a secret bunker in a former Soviet republic. The songs have a lo-fi grittiness that give them a sound both scrappily robust and bitingly industrial. Think of it as dance music for a cyberpunk version of "The Waste Land." — Murphy

Vale of Pnath, Prodigal Empires (Willowtip). Prodigal Empire is the full-length followup to Vale of Pnath's 2009 self-titled debut, and the recorded introduction of vocalist Ken Serafin, who replaced the act's original singer, David Lercher. Prodigal finds the dudes playing mind-meltingly complex metal that's every bit as ferocious as before, with the added menace of Serafin's more guttural vocals. — Herrera

Varlet, The Drifter (Self-released). The Drifter has a timelessness like some forgotten gem from the era when Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt were alive and directly infiltrated the DNA of popular music. Lilly Scott's voice has an ineffable classic quality, and the masterful musicianship on these songs helps it shine brightly. — Murphy

Wil Guice and DJ Ktone, R&Beast (Self-released). Wil Guice uses his golden tone on this mixtape to bring an R&B touch to rap songs. The Kanye and Jay-Z track "HAM" gets a makeover with Guice's vocals and different lyrics, while the recording's original material showcases the crooner's creative-writing side. DJ Ktone brings the hip-hop-DJ feel while Guice maintains the soulful side of things. R&Beast is a solid project and collaborative effort. — Johnson

Woodsman, Rare Forms (Lefse). Beginning with the immediately arresting "Insects," on Rare Forms Woodsman take us on a trip through landscapes surrounded by shining psychedelia passages processed through krautrock drones and experimental electronic music. Imbued with a sense of wonderment, this is the sound of a band fully able to surprise itself as well as its audience. — Murphy

Yo, Sextape (Self-released). Yo (aka Yonnas Abraham) has outdone himself on the first release in the BLKHRTS solo trilogy, Sextape. Naturally, the themes on the project deal with vulnerability and self-exposure, but, frankly, few are actually about sex, save for the explicit "Sybian." Yo frequently recasts himself as whoever he wants to be, and he does so with grace, style and more charisma than most. — Johnson

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